Posted 10 months ago on May 3, 2014, 8 a.m. EST by DouglasAdams
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Just when a more perfect Union was within reach, as Justice was about to be established, with domestic Tranquility assured, and the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity secured, the Supreme Court of the United States stepped on Affirmative Action. Did this cause a slight tremor or a tectonic shift sending shockwaves throughout the delicate mechanism that has evolved to level the playing field of social and economic equality in the United States for half a century?
The Supreme Court upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, a key decision in an unfolding legal and political battle nationally over Affirmative Action.
It bars publicly funded colleges from granting "preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision. "For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government," Sotomayor wrote.
But three justices in the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito. concluded that the lower court did not have the authority to set aside the law.
"This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," Kennedy wrote. "Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues," he added.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas voted in the majority as part of concurring opinions.
Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, and Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the case.
The court's first Latina justice, Sotomayor, took the unusual step of reading part of her powerful dissent from the bench, taking more than 15 minutes to express her concern about the ruling's impact.
"This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination," she said.
"As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society," she added.
"With today's opinion, the court has placed responsibility for affirmative action squarely in the hands of the states. State universities can choose to adopt affirmative action admissions programs, and state voters can choose to discontinue them," said Jennifer Mason McAward, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
The question arises, “Are the state voters qualified to vote on such matters?” Can voters be trusted to make the right decisions? An artfully crafted media blitz replaces scientific arguments. Often political outcomes are influenced by emotional appeals instead of cold analysis of hard facts. Political Action Committees are capable of saying anything to win an election. Even the spectre of hacked voting machines from past elections would be a caveat to take this power out of the hands of the voters. The underhanded political tools that were used to snatch both Al Gore’s and John Kerry’s defeats from the jaws of victory still remain unregulated.